College Football Preseason Rankings Mean Nothing – 2013 Edition

Alabama Players

Every season there’s another example of how preseason polls are quite terrible at predicting who are actually the best teams in college football. Florida State, undefeated and number one heading into the conference championship game, were outside the top 10. Florida, who finish the season at 4-8 were the number 10 team in the nation when the polls came out.

USC were the number one team in the country when the season began last year, but they ended up with a 7-6 record, being the first number one team since the 1960’s to lose five games or more in a season (Ole Miss in 1964 with a 5-5-1 record). Alabama didn’t finish at number one, but 11-1 isn’t that bad, and breaks the curse of preseason number one teams losing at least three games during the regular season.

This is the AP Top 25 at the beginning of the season:

RK TEAM RECORD PTS
1 Alabama (58) 0-0 1498
2 Ohio State (1) 0-0 1365
3 Oregon 0-0 1335
4 Stanford 0-0 1294
5 Georgia (1) 0-0 1249
6 South Carolina 0-0 1154
7 Texas A&M 0-0 1104
8 Clemson 0-0 1083
9 Louisville 0-0 1042
10 Florida 0-0 894
11 Florida State 0-0 845
12 LSU 0-0 802
13 Oklahoma State 0-0 755
14 Notre Dame 0-0 748
15 Texas 0-0 677
16 Oklahoma 0-0 579
17 Michigan 0-0 531
18 Nebraska 0-0 382
19 Boise State 0-0 328
20 TCU 0-0 323
21 UCLA 0-0 286
22 Northwestern 0-0 199
23 Wisconsin 0-0 185
24 USC 0-0 134
25 Oregon State 0-0 129

And this is it now:

RK TEAM RECORD PTS
1 Florida State (58) 12-0 1498
2 Ohio State 12-0 1418
3 Auburn (2) 11-1 1387
4 Alabama 11-1 1294
5 Missouri 11-1 1281
6 Oklahoma State 10-1 1197
7 Stanford 10-2 1067
8 South Carolina 10-2 1066
9 Baylor 10-1 1020
10 Michigan State 11-1 1002
11 Arizona State 10-2 843
12 Oregon 10-2 815
13 Clemson 10-2 813
14 LSU 9-3 690
15 UCF 10-1 621
16 Northern Illinois 12-0 596
17 UCLA 9-3 510
18 Oklahoma 9-2 503
19 Louisville 10-1 482
20 Duke 10-2 348
21 Wisconsin 9-3 299
22 Texas A&M 8-4 186
23 Texas 8-3 156
24 Fresno State 10-1 124
25 Georgia 8-4 111

Four teams in the current top 10: Auburn, Missouri, Baylor and Michigan State, weren’t in the top 25 when it came out before the season began. Auburn and Missouri didn’t even get any points at all, while Baylor and Michigan State just missed out on making it in to the top 25.

How did the Coaches Poll do? Same thing. No Auburn or Missouri, not a single point for them. Michigan State and Baylor did get to score some points, but not enough to put them in the top 25.

Notre Dame, Michigan, Boise State, TCU, Northwestern and USC were also in the top 25 when the year began. The voters didn’t see Fresno State, Duke, Northern Illinois, UCF and Arizona State coming as well. Next year we won’t have any more BCS standings but the CFB playoff committee releasing standings once in a while, but we’ll still have the preseason polls which act more as a way to cause some hype before the season begins than anything else of value or indicative of a true power ranking in college football.

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